Journal #189 – Rush To Meet Deadline, Violating Core Values in Process

I’m pretty sure everyone in their professional life has been called upon or required to rush, grind, and push oneself to meet deadlines set by either the customer, client or even internal management team. Personally, I’m just not sure if it is even necessary. What I do know is it leads one to suffer from health problems when done wrongly. I have always done it wrongly and never once have I done it correctly. I will explain more later.

So what’s the end result when I rush? I neglect the balance that my body and mind need everyday. I had to pump my body full of caffeine just so that I can power it through.

That’s what I did today. I took four shots of expressos in the form of Americano. Then followed by two bags of Earl Grey Tea soaked in 400ml of hot water, refilled twice. My body actually felt so jittery after that, and everything looks suddenly so bright.

This is what I call violation of my health value just so that I can meet the unreasonable deadline set by my management. Hmmm… in hindsight, the deadline was actually set by the client. But the management team decided to make the call of waiting for me to join the company a month after I served my notice instead of getting someone else earlier, thereby reducing the amount of time I have to develop.

Now, before you ask why I did what I did, I will tell you. I actually took into account my mental energy levels (which is quite low even after all these years of working) before pumping myself so full of caffeine. It is in part because of my extreme unwillingness to give someone something that I don’t feel satisfied with.

With that much caffeine, now I don’t even know if I can sleep tonight. I suspect I will suffer from a massive sleep debt again. Right now, I do have a headache. My short term action definitely don’t align with my values.

So I’m not happy.

Other than the bad, what else? Well, nothing that is truly meaningful or valuable to me, except maybe a simple thanks. Maybe after this whole ordeal, I can look back and see some upside but definitely not at this moment. What I do know is that the company will get better standing with the customer. My manager gets a fatter bonus. My bosses will be happy.

There is one other thing.

There was an internal demo which included a quick meeting. It turns out we don’t have two more weeks of buffer anymore. We are expected to deliver a fully functioning application with bells and whistles by October 19, latest October 25. That is including the documents for the QA and testers. From where I’m standing, I see that our application is only 70% done. I estimate the authorization and authentication module definitely is only 45% done. Looks like I only have 4 days to finish it all and proceed to do internal integration testing.

I know most people will just say focus on delivering the core requirements… but I can’t. I am not satisfy just delivering the core because it violate my other core value of quality (more like perfection from my view).

Hmm…

I guess I’m gonna make a choice, deciding which violation of my core values that I’m willing to live with. And I think it’s a simple choice. I will ignore quality and focus on my health. Health is something that I cannot rebuild back. Most people have this thinking that you could nourish your health back but they fail to take into account you age with each passing day. Your body’s repair mechanism ages too. You can never get back your original health or vitality.

One last thing.

I’m gonna try and wind down my caffeine intake starting tomorrow so that I can sleep better at night. Not gonna sacrifice my own health so much just to deliver something for someone who don’t have the power or ability to repair my damaged body. Only I can by making the right choices.

I know some professionals may not agree or may find that I’m irresponsible by not focusing on quality. My response would be, you do you, I do me. If you have the drive, health is not one of your core value, and likes your standing amongst your colleagues or friends to be high up on the pedestal, go ahead and do what you want to achieve. For me, all I know is that I will be irresponsible to myself and my family if my physical and mental health takes such a massive toll and require my family to take care of me. If you have read through my journals, you would have known that I went through a period of depression, went on a career break, and re-evaluated what I want in life.

I have definitely slipped in terms of the alignment of my actions, goals, and values.

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Journal #182 – Mooncake Festival

Today is Mooncake Festival or more formally known as Mid-Autumn Festival. It is a festival celebrated by ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese people.

When I was younger, I would go downstairs and play with the neighbors, carry lanterns. As I got older, I got more introverted and decided to spend more time in front of a screen instead.

And now for me, today is just like any other day.

At work, I focused on integrating the identity access module with the client application and the rest of the server codes.

During the integration, it turns out that some of my interfaces didn’t meet certain requirements. So I had to overload some of the functions to take in some other kind of parameters for the same purpose.

For some reason, I actually felt kind of upset after the discussion with my colleague about what I have implemented. Why did I get upset? Cause I’m upset at myself for not being better.

But it’s ok.

The lesson to be learn here is that, one should also find out more before doing anything more.

Also, after a round of basic integration testing, my colleague disagreed with my use of exception to control flow of execution and preferred the use of booleans and integers.

But it’s ok. There is no right way or wrong way of doing things. It’s just different approach. It’s all about comprehension at the end of the day. I will proceed to make the changes tomorrow.

After work, I went to buy a box of Essence of Chicken with Cordyceps for $18.05 from Watsons.

I take Essence of Chicken from time to time to improve my cognitive ability and improve recovery from mental fatigue. A study and another have shown that Essence of Chicken works. Personally, I found that it helps me in both aspects.

As part of the Mid-Autumn Festival, it won’t be complete without the mooncake itself.

So here it is, one of the red-bean paste mooncake that my family have. I have already eaten a slice and found it to be decent. Not that sweet or tasteless. But as with any food, one cannot be eating too many.

That’s all for now.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Journal #181 – Light At the End of The Tunnel

As I’m preparing to write this journal, I’m in the process of dozing off. In a way, it has been a long day for me but I won’t say it has been extremely productive. I did get some work done but that’s it.

First thing in the morning was me adding more functionalities to the identity access module. Closer to lunch time, I went and filled up the security clearance form that the client needed us to submit. The night before, I actually went to pull out an older copy from my own personal data vault at home, convert it into a password protected PDF, and uploaded it to iCloud. I’m trusting Apple’s iCloud is actually secure and private enough for me to store such sensitive piece of document there. The purpose of that older copy was for reference purpose because I don’t remember every single details of my life to fill such documents.

After I’m done with the document, I went and deleted the version in my iCloud and ensure that it was deleted from all my iCloud-connected devices. Deep down, I hope it’s not cached somewhere.

After that, my colleagues and I went for lunch. Today, our team leader and some other staff in our development office were not around for some reason. And so there were only four of us heading to lunch together.

After lunch, we came back, chit-chat for a moment before getting back to work. I began the process of integrating the client application with the identity access module through web service. I managed to get the login and logout function working, and added some logging codes to some of the application services. It’s not complete yet, as in not all the application services or even web services parts have the logging codes, but at least it was something. This is why I gave my journal the title it is having now. It was a light at the end of the tunnel for me. Every successful integration, even if it’s just one endpoint, is good news.

Other than that, I also went ahead to add some comments to the task (assigned to me) in JIRA so that my management have some kind of visibility.

After that I spent the last half an hour just surfing the web, Twitter, and Facebook and then just call it a day.

On the train home, I read the first few pages of chapter 3 of the book, Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products, which I bought last Thursday as mentioned in the journal entry. I haven’t been spending a lot of time reading it, thus my slow progress. Normally, for a book as thin as this, I would have finished within one day. But it’s because I lack the discipline and lack distractions (Netflix) pull me away, and in part, I wanted to keep something around to read while going to work.

So far, I love the book. Mr. Leander Kahney did a good job writing the book and told the story in a rather engaging way. I suppose non-fiction can be entertaining too. And the book has made me respect Mr. Jony Ive even more.

And I did learn Design and Technology before during my secondary school days, so I can appreciate everything done by him when it comes to Apple’s product.

That’s all.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Journal #176 – Going Through Drudgery Daily, Then A Decent Ending For Today

Why do I have writer’s block? Why do I not know what I want to write about today?

I want to say I’m tired. But that sounds like a fucking excuse.

But at the root of it, it’s really simple.

I didn’t put myself out there enough, exposing myself to brand new ideas, talking with people, sharing.

Everyday is the same fucking shit.

Wake up. Have food. Shower. Travel to work. Write code. Test code. Fix Code. Write more code. Have food. Do more code…

Sounds extremely boring isn’t it? In part yes. In part, no. The no part refers to my tendency to refactor my code even though they are not done or functioning yet. I moved my codes around, create more classes, break apart certain functions, etc. All part of the development process. The yes part refers to the process of writing code itself.

Just like the process of writing my journals. It’s a form of drudgery as it’s boring as hell. There could be a million (ok, not a million, maybe a dozen) of things that I could be doing. And sometimes, I’m tired. But I still write because that’s how I will improve.

My friend did tell me there is no need to write everyday. Generally, I will just say fuck off. But not today because I choose to ignore him.

You see, by forcing yourself to write everyday, you are training yourself. It is intentional training. Just like how some people go for music lesson in a consistent manner. That’s how they become good.

So in my case, because of me consistently writing everyday and putting out content, even now when I’m super exhausted, super sleepy, I’m still able write so much. See, I’m good at telling my own life story.

I’m just that good at it.

Now let’s repeat after me.

Ha! I’m joking. But I hope you get what I’m trying to say. Keep practicing and you will become good at what you do.

And today, I didn’t go home right away after work. My friend actually asked me out for dinner and so I did.

Met him at Orchard to eat at The Sushi Bar and each person pays S$38.60.

A cup of green tea for $2.

A bowl of steam egg (chawanmushi) for $4.

A regular sized Kaisen Chirashi Don for $26.90.

After dinner, my friend and I made our way to the Kinokuniya Bookstore at Takashimaya. At first I didn’t know what I want to buy, then I thought about buying Tim Ferriss’s 4 hour workweek. But I wasn’t sure I could find it. Then I thought about buying Steve Jobs’ biography until I came across a book about Jony Ive.

So I went to buy the book call Jony Ive: The Genuis Behind Apple’s Greatest Products by Leander Kahn.

Why did I buy it? My initial thought was maybe I could try and understand what’s going on behind the decisions that gave us the products that we so loved from Apple. I thought maybe it could expand my knowledge. And a part of me, I don’t know. It’s my first biography that I have ever bought.

Maybe after reading it, I could give a decent review. I shall see how that goes.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Journal #174 – Productive Tuesday, Maybe

I like to think that I have a productive day. Maybe? Maybe not?

Let’s see.

I woke up this morning still feeling both physically and mentally tired. But I still forced myself to get out of bed, have my breakfast, and go to work. Today, I left my house 5 minutes but I purposely walked slower to the train station. So I ended up reaching office at around the same time.

With a large cup of Cold Brew from Starbucks, I powered through the morning. My workflow when it comes to development usually goes like this:

  1. Develop a rough software design in my head.
  2. Start coding based on that rough design.
  3. Identify use cases.
  4. Draw the actual software diagrams.
  5. Continue development and test
  6. Repeat 3 and 5.

So today, I did number 3,4, and 5 until lunch time.

After lunch, I actually took the diagram and ran through it with the team leader. After going back and forth, he agreed to the direction I’m taking and so I continue development.

By about 4pm, I managed to get at least two WCF services up and running but I won’t call it completely done. There are certain scenarios which I have yet consider in the context of it being an identity access management system.

Personally, I never liked having not cover all possible scenarios in whatever code that I do and given time, I will probably perfect it. Time is not my friend in most of the cases. And so these days, I only focus on getting it to work properly covering approximately 60% of the use cases. Part of the reason for that low percentage is because of my desire to balance mental energy use and resting from work.

As a HSP (highly-sensitive person), I do take way longer than normal people to wind down at the end of a workday.

Well, I took a short break from 4.00pm until 4.30pm before continuing my work again. When I start working again, I went back to discuss with the team lead on what I want to do next.

By 6pm, I had already finished inputting the one part of core data necessary for the module to work properly. So I guess I will continue that tomorrow as well as do more coding. I did promise my team lead that I will finish most of the implementation by next Friday for proper integration with the rest of the system.

And I will use this chance to sum up what I learnt or improved on over the past few days:

  1. Entity Framework for Dot NET
  2. Code First Approach with Existing Database
  3. Applying predicate logic for the purpose of implementing domain behaviors and querying the database through the DbContext.
  4. Reinforcing my OOP through domain driven design.

That’s all for my update today.

Journal #173 – Feeling Exhausted

I wasn’t sure how am I to start this journal so this sentence shall serve as a filler until I get my writing mojo back.

This week marks the start of my fourth week at my new job. Hmm…It’s no longer “new” anymore. As I mentioned previously, I am working on the identity access module for the project I am on. Even though it’s the first day of the week, working on it has pretty much drained all my mental energy preventing me from writing anything decent. I’m tired and felt like sleeping.

You know what the funny thing was? I actually drank my usual Cold Brew in the morning and by mid-day, I was tired. I guess my body has gotten used to the amount of caffeine.

Now, I’m trying to drink some green tea but it’s not working either.

Even so, I still went about doing some more bug fixes and code refactoring for my client. I uploaded the compiled jar file to the FTP and hope my client test it tomorrow. I also gotten the cheque for this month’s freelance work deposited in my bank. Just waiting for it to be cleared.

After having my dinner, I went to watch The Last Ship as well as two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery on Netflix.

The Last Ship is atypical for me. The story is kind of expected and now I’m watching it for some kind of conclusion. For Star Trek, I thought it would be a nice addition to the my “watched” science fiction TV series. So far, I like the show. Let’s see how the rest of the show go as they get released on Netflix.

Generally, I prefer space-based science fiction and Star Trek is one of my more favorite ones. And I watched them for more inspirations and help take my mind away from the harsh reality of real life.

Oh, in case you wondering, I don’t quite like Star Wars. =x

Ok, I shall call it a night.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Journal #169 – End of Third Week at Work

Today marks the end of the workweek at my new job. I have mostly eased myself into the job, focusing on doing what is required, ignoring the other noises.

In terms of adapting, I like to think that I have done that. I am comfortable in my role now. I am comfortable with my colleagues. And I am comfortable in my current environment.

As for familiarizing myself with the project, it’s still a work in progress but I doubt I will need to know the full picture or interact with the vendors and customer. I don’t want to. Why? It’s to reduce my mental load and so that I can focus on what’s truly important— coding.

During these three weeks, I have also mostly picked up on the basic aspect of using .NET and C# in general and was able to complete the implementation of various small use cases on the frontend. I also start to appreciate the beauty of C# though I still don’t quite enjoy using it as much as Java. But since I am a writer first, programmer second, I just saw it as Java is my mother tongue and C# is my second language. At the end of the day, they are like English and Mandarin, and are really just tools for me to put out my solution or idea.

My next task for work is to develop the identity access component and that means I have moved to backend development. I foresee I will probably spend the next two weeks on this. As part of the development, I spent quite a fair amount of time first to understand the business requirements through discussion and extracting out the use cases. Of course, my approach is to code while extracting out the use case. This is my way of setting in stone my idea, so to speak. It helps me to identify flaws in my design that were initially in my head.

For my freelance work, I also uploaded a compiled jar to the client’s FTP server. I also managed to finish implementing a new function.

So in a way, it’s a rather productive week.

Before I forget, my application for deferment of the military in-camp training was successful (not particularly happy about it). I also received a call-up for another make-up training set on the first two weeks of January 2018 on the same day via SMS. Well, I wanted to go back for the make-up as soon as possible, made it known to my unit, and was informed January was the earliest possible. Not ideal but better than nothing. So in a way, the year 2018 will see me going back to in-camp training twice. It’s fine though.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Journal #158 – Emotionally Exhausting Monday

When I went to work this morning, I was feeling somewhat productive and equally gossipy. I spent most of my morning chit-chatting with my colleague about life and work.

For work, I went about fixing some issue with the async web service call and managed to update the client UI accordingly.

We went for a quick lunch, went back to office, and I continue to chit chat with my colleague again.

In the meantime, I waited for the team leader to come back, and I checked with him on what to do next. I also went about asking for some time off for tomorrow morning for a medical appointment. He agreed to it and so I will go off around 11 am for the appointment and then come back after lunch.

I went back to my seat and studied how to implement a login page using WPF. I manage to create the basic form in less than an hour. I also discussed with another colleague, whose responsibility is on the backend services, on the various web services that I will need for my part of the work. She got back to me on the web services later in the evening.

I also raised the issue of my upcoming military in-camp training with the team leader. He said he will check with the department manager and the technical manager. I did indicate repeatedly that I didn’t want to defer. After that, I went to check with the admin on the status of my company-issued laptop who told me to check with the IT department.

So I did just that. Went down to the first floor where the IT department, waited for them to finish preparing the final few stages of the setup, and I took the laptop.

Everything was good up to this point…

I went back to my desk and my team leader said the department manager wanted to talk to us. So I went along. It turned out the department manager wanted me to defer the upcoming in-camp training.

Noooooooo!

With that, my mood was destroyed. I didn’t want to do any more work.

Screw work!

I already indicated so thoroughly that I wanted to go for the in-camp training. One of the reasons, which I never said, was because my friends will be there and they make the whole training enjoyable. I love having them around. Secondly, another reason which I didn’t mention, deferring the training means there will be make-up training later with people I don’t know. It will also throw my future training schedule off. I won’t be with my friends anymore going forward and in many ways, will affect my desire to go back for future training.

Look, I’m someone who get depressed every so often. Having friends around is what kept me going and help to raise my mood. Take that away from me, I will slip back into depression. And if I have to pretend to make new friends just to get by, that’s going against my personal value again. It does not have authenticity. That itself will upset me quite a lot.

Of course I didn’t share that with my manager. As manager, I don’t think she cares. I understand her priority is delivery of the project on time as proscribed in the tender, and that the rest of the team does not need to work overtime. She added that going for the training after this phase is fine and she won’t stop me.

Well, that’s not the point… not for me anyway.

Professionally, I will still deliver what is required and contribute to ensure the smooth delivery of the end product.

Emotionally, I am extremely not happy and will be taking a series of actions over the next few weeks so that I can right my own ship back to its original heading. I do have quite a few things planned after this phase… This definitely is a wrench in the gears. But then life doesn’t always go your way.

It was emotionally exhausting day for me. I got back home, ignoring work and focus on watching my TV shows.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Journal #130 – Love-hate relationship with Monday

Sometimes I hate Mondays and there are times when I love it. It really depends on what’s my mood and my feeling about work that day.

Put it this way. If the task that I need to do on Monday is something that I would enjoy, I look forward to it. But if it’s something I dread or have no interest in doing, I feel the Monday’s blue. And there are days when I feel the Monday’s blue because I’m burn out from work or that there’s something else that I want to do.

And today is enjoyable Monday.

My day started at around 0750hrs but I chose to lay in bed for a while until about 0800hrs before I got up. Went through my morning routine, put on a pair of black sweat pants and navy blue t-shirt, and out of the house I went.

My mom went to Genting earlier today and will only be back on Wednesday. Since there won’t anyone at home until evening, I spent some time to power off everything except the fridge. The reason is very simple; fear of electrical fire. I have seen enough news about electrical devices or appliance just bursting into flames.

At work, I did some major code-refactoring and feature implementation.

My code refactoring was mostly about shuffling classes around so that they make sense in terms of subdomains.

Ever since I got exposed to domain driven design a year and a half ago, my favorite way of packaging my Java classes is that of the one used by the Cargo Example. The top four main packages, interfaces, domain, application, and infrastructure help to me easily identify the purpose of the classes. Going further down the packages, they represented the subdomains.

But until today, I still have some trouble sorting the classes properly because I know I don’t have enough experience and I’m dealing with a legacy system. Whatever domain knowledge that I had about the system I’m working on were mostly rusty. Two, I have the tendency of second-guessing myself, and is unable to justify why certain classes have to go into certain packages.

At around 1700hrs, I decided to call it a day and packed up. I went home and reached home at around 1815hrs. Had a quick shower and then I went about vacuuming the floor, and keeping the washing machine’s outlet pipe, after draining it dry, once the spin cycle completed.

Then I waited for my dinner and ate it while watching Game of Thrones. I love how some of the characters came a full circle but then I don’t quite remember everything about the show. To me, there are more important things in life than remembering what happened in first few seasons of a TV series. Like for example, building up my personal brand and doing writing.

23So next, I shall focus on watching The Strain before moving on to watch some YouTube video.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Daily Journal – Jul 27, 2017

This is my 112th journal.

Woke up at 1030hrs as usual.

After my morning routine, I set down to start clearing out some old letters and documents related to old subscriptions and enrollment to NTU that were in my drawer. I also went to do some filling up of the credit card statements that I got for the last three years. This is part of a series of micro-steps towards minimalism.

Then I paid some bills online.

Had my lunch at around 1340hrs and watched the last episode of Daredevil Season 2 and second episode of Shooter season 2. Before I knew it, it was already 1500hrs.

At 1652hrs, I decided to go for a 10.30 km run.

Went for a 10.30 km run/jog/walk at around 1733hrs and finished it at around 1855hrs. Along the way, my legs hurt like hell and I was completely breathless and thirsty as fuck. I had to stop halfway to get a bottle of water and drank it. In some way, it’s a bad call cause I over drank and the bottle was too heavy. Anyway, my body didn’t feel right. I guess it’s because my body hasn’t recover from the 5 km maintenance run that I did on Tuesday. So for the last 1 km, I walked all the way.

Now, my ankles and knees are hurting like mad. I only have myself to blame for wearing the pair of shoes that wasn’t meant for my flat-feet.

In the meantime, over the past few days, I have been checking my bank account in an obsessive-compulsive manner. That’s my neuroticism rearing its ugly head. As you know, I quitted my job and served out the notice period. However, I have concerns that the company may not pay me on time. Or worse, don’t pay me.

Salary non-payment is an offense under the employment act. That aside, I do have at least three months worth of savings and that I will be doing some light part-time work next month. However, my other plans still hinges on that salary. There’s just two more working days left in this month, so I guess we shall see.

Anyway, I recently decided to embark on the hobby of flying drones. I signed up for a drone piloting course provided by SkillsHQ and I intend to get my own drone. However, I went and checked the CAAS website for restricted areas and this is what I got.

http://www.caas.gov.sg/caas/en/ANS/area-limits.html

There just isn’t a lot of places where you can fly a drone without a permit for recreational purpose. So I guess I will need to go overseas and fly the drone if I get one. I think maybe Taiwan or Australia is a good place to do that.

Later at night, had my dinner at around 2020hrs. After that, I watched Planet of the Apps episode 7 on Apple Music from my MacBook. I know there were lots of criticism of the show and that to some it is a disgrace to other reality show. But then, I’m watching it for fun with no specific expectation or criticism.

I also got an email from my client in the evening about some bugs that were found with the application that I built for them. So I will be fixing them tomorrow…maybe later tonight. I will also be paying a visit to their office tomorrow morning.

So I decided to fix the bugs raised by my client. I’m officially done at 2255 hrs, committed and push the codes to my Bitbucket account. I will release the executable (it’s a desktop-based thick client built using Java Swing) tomorrow.

That’s all for today.

Here I conclude my journal for today.